NEW YORK – Saudi Arabian princes paid Usama bin Laden and the Taliban $200 million to spare targets in the oil-rich Gulf state, according to court papers.
Recently revealed evidenced contained in a $1 trillion lawsuit, filed this month by the kin of 9/11 victims against members of the Saudi royal family, Saudi banks and Islamic charities, alleges the payoff funded Al Qaeda terror training in Afghanistan.
The deal was hammered out in two meetings between top Saudi princes, and officials from Al Qaeda, Pakistan and the Taliban.
The first, in Paris, was reported by French intelligence agents, and lawyers claim to have transcripts of the sit-down.
The second powwow was in Kandahar in July 1998.
Saudi officials, worried over attacks against U.S. servicemen in Saudi Arabia in 1995 and 1996, agreed to finance Al Qaeda in exchange for a promise the group would not try to destabilize the Saudi government and would not carry out terror attacks in the kingdom, according to the suit.
The Saudi princes also agreed to block extradition of Al Qaeda terror suspects or help in dismantling terror camps in Afghanistan.
After the 1998 meeting, 400 new pickup trucks -- still bearing Saudi license plates -- arrived in Kandahar for the Taliban.
Pakistan and the Taliban also received cash and oil in the deal, court papers said.
The suit has been denounced as a "bogus, politicized lawsuit" by lawyer Katib al Shamri, who has filed a class-action lawsuit in the United States on behalf of Taliban prisoners being held in Guantanamo Bay and Saudis in the United States allegedly mistreated in the wake of the terror attacks.
Prince Turki al-Faisal al-Saud, then head of the Saudi secret service, was at the second meeting and has since said the meetings were with Taliban officials only.
He said his government supported the Taliban in order to keep lines of communication open.
The son of King Faisal, Turki, who was dumped from his secret-service spot last year, made a series of speeches in the United States trying to distance the House of Saud from Al Qaeda.
Turki, who sent bin Laden to Afghanistan to support the mujahedeen, said the terror kingpin offered to send fighters to defend Saudi Arabia in the 1990s.
He also said bin Laden broke the agreement by denouncing the Saudi leadership, and his government pressured terror cleric Mullah Mohammed Omar to extradite bin Laden.
Omar agreed to give up bin Laden, but reneged a month later, Turki said.
Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied financing terrorism and issued a statement earlier this month saying it "condemns terrorism in all its forms."
President Bush has sought to reassure the Saudi government and will host its ambassador, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, at his Texas ranch on Tuesday.
The information came as part of a suit filed Aug. 15 by 900 relatives of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.